Kenny Baker, ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 actor, dies at 81

August 14 19:45 2016 Print This Article

Kenny Baker, the 3’8″ tall British actor who gave life to the droid R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, has died of a lung condition and respiratory problems at the age of 81. Baker died in his sleep Saturday morning, according to his nephew and caregiver Andrew Myerscough.

“He was an inspiration to many people,” Myerscough said. “He never let his disability affect or stop him from doing anything he wanted to do.”

Baker appeared as R2-D2 in six of the episodic theatrical Star Wars films, and played an additional role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally going to play the Ewok lead, Wicket, but he fell ill and the role was handed over to Warwick Davis. Baker’s other films include The Elephant Man, Time Bandits, Mona Lisa, Willow, Flash Gordon, Amadeus and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

“Kenny Baker was a real gentleman as well as an incredible trooper who always worked hard under difficult circumstances,” Star Wars creator George Lucas said in a statement. “A talented vaudevillian who could always make everybody laugh, Kenny was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2 and will be missed by all his fans and everyone who knew him.”

Baker’s wife, Eileen, died in 1993. The couple had two sons.

Photo: Getty Images